Garden Therapy Notes

 A Collection of Gardening Information and Inspiration



Increase the Air Quality in Your Home  


My parents are selling their house. So, my siblings and I are finally clearing out our old childhood rooms in order to make the house more presentable to buyers.  


We started off with my brother’s bedroom. My brother takes after my dad – he keeps everything! There was over 20 years worth of dusty books, clothes, school notes, toys, pictures, and collectibles to sort through. We wanted to re-vamp everything. Eventually we will be painting the walls and we even rolled up the old carpet to reveal a nice wooden floor below. When we did so, we were all in disbelief at the flurry of dust it stirred up. I wondered how much formaldehyde we were being exposed to as we dealt with the carpet. Formaldehyde is a toxic gas that comes not only from carpet but from foam insulation, plywood, particle board, and furniture. Even years after a new carpet is installed or a wall is freshly painted, volatile toxins are off-gassed.  

When we get to the task of painting at my parent’s place, we will have to deal with a volatile chemical in paint called trichloroethylene.   


“We need to put plants in here” I said. My sister nodded in agreement. “Yes, definitely” she said, knowing that many common house plants are able to remove pollutants like formaldehyde and trichloroethylene from the environment. The transformation occurs at the root zone of the plant where toxins get converted into nutrients for the plant’s growth and metabolism, resulting in cleaner air for their caregivers

(i.e. you!).  



Plants add cheerful, lively beauty to our environment, they also provide us with fresher air to breathe. The result is less headaches and respiratory conditions linked to environmental toxins.


The Best Plants For Cleaner Air 

My Top 3 Suggestions 


#1: Spider Plant 

Spider plants (Chlorophytum comosum) are said to be the best at removing formaldehyde from the air. They have nice long thin, often striped leaves that arch from the centre like a fountain, looking great in table pots or hanging baskets. They often produce plantlets or baby plants from long stalks that come from the centre of the ‘fountain’.  



spider plant

Spider plants will produce tiny white flowers if they are exposed to bright filtered light, but they also grow as a nice foliage plant in low light. They like to be kept evenly moist, so check the compost once a week and water if it feels dry 1 inch below the surface.  




#2: Scented Geranium 

Scented geraniums (Pelargonium species) are very attractive and aromatic. You can find ones that smell like lemon, roses, mint and apple. It is handy to have this plant in the kitchen as they are a great herb that you can add to salads. They like sunny spots that are cool at the same time. The aromatic leaves can also be dried for potpourri.  


scented geranium


Let compost slightly dry between waterings and prune back stems if you want to maintain a bushy growth habit.     




#3: Pothos Ivy  

My most favourite plant that I recommend to beginner indoor gardeners is the Golden Pothos Ivy (Epiperemnum aureum). Pothos are also great at removing formaldehyde. This plant grows well in low light areas and even better in bright filtered light. It looks great in a hanging basket as it is a ‘climber’. If you choose to, you can let its vines grow long and trail them along walls, around window frames, down around bookcases, etc. The leaves of the Pothos are shiny with splashes of yellow. Trina calls it the “love plant” because of its heart-shaped leaves.     


Let the compost dry slightly between watering. This plant will appreciate a weekly misting on their leaves.  






Do It Inexpensively 


Including more plants in your life does not have to be expensive. Some of the most common indoor plants are also easy to propagate. Propagation is the technique of making ‘new’ plants from ‘parent’ plants. The 3 plants mentioned above also happen to be very easy to propagate. So, if you happen to know somebody who already has the above plants, or you would like to learn how to make more plants from your current plants, check out Plant Propagation.



Written By: Lea Tran

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